FEAR­SOME FAIL­URES

Both the BRM Type 15 and Maserati 450S promised much, but didn’t de­liver. By Kevin Turner Mon­ster with a roof

Motor Sport News - - Monsters: 1950s Cars -

Most rac­ing cars of the 1950s had more power than grip. Skinny tyres and no down­force meant slid­ing and drift­ing were com­mon­place, but two cars went way be­yond the en­ve­lope of the era’s tech­nol­ogy, and suf­fered as a re­sult.

The BRM V16, cre­ated to chal­lenge the Ital­ian dom­i­na­tion of grand prix rac­ing, could pro­duce – when ev­ery­thing was work­ing – over 500bhp from its 1.5-litre su­per­charged en­gine. The later Maserati 450S was per­haps the most bru­tal sportscar un­til the ar­rival of the bet­ter-funded Ford GT40 and Porsche 917 pro­grammes in the 1960s, its V8 pro­vid­ing 400bhp.

Both cars won races, but ul­ti­mately both were fail­ures. And nei­ther was easy to drive.

If there was one car that could chal­lenge the BRM V16 as the worst racer Stir­ling Moss ever drove it was the one-off Maserati 450S Za­gato Coupe.

Pro­duced for Le Mans, the idea of a closed, more slip­pery ver­sion of an open sportscar for straight-line speed on the Mul­sanne was not new. Mercedes had made the famed 300SLR Uh­len­haut Coupe, but with­drew from mo­tor­sport be­fore it got to race. The Maserati did get to com­pete, to much mis­for­tune.

Moss was heav­ily in­volved in the car’s cre­ation and sug­gested suc­cess­ful aero­dy­nam­i­cist Frank Costin help pen the closed 450S for the 1957 24 Hours. Whether the in­cred­i­bly flawed car was the re­sult of poor de­sign or the rushed way in which Costin’s con­cept was put to­gether by Za­gato is open to de­bate, but there is no doubt it was a fail­ure.

The coupe was cramped, vis­i­bil­ity was poor, the win­dow wipers didn’t work, and it was hot and noisy. It was also slower than the open 450S.

Moss hauled the car into the top three early in the race be­fore be­ing de­layed by an oil pipe fail­ure. It was re­paired, but the rear uni­ver­sal joint seized and ended its ad­ven­ture be­fore quar­ter dis­tance.

“The big prob­lem with the coupe was there was noth­ing to clear the screen,” re­calls Moss. “The open car was faster and more drive­able.”

The 600bhp-ca­pa­ble BRM V16 is still be­ing demon­strated these days

The smaller, lighter Mk2 BRM was suc­cess­ful in For­mula Li­bre races

Reg Par­nell did take two race wins at Good­wood dur­ing 1950 sea­son

The 450S Za­gato: pretty but bad

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.